Staunton, October 1 – Anatoly Makarov, the head of the Russian foreign ministry department for work with compatriots, says Moscow is doing everything it can to make “our multi-million strong diaspora a reliable partner of Russia, from which we have the read to expect deep internal moral support and understanding of our foreign policy initiatives.”
To that end, he told Rubaltic.ru’s Elizaveta Boldova, “we are carrying out a line so that Russian compatriots regardless of where they live are guaranteed all rights and freedoms in conformity with international standards, are not restricted in the right to use their native language, and have the opportunity to preserve the culture and traditions of their historical Motherland.”
With respect to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Makarov said, “we will do everything possible to defend the rights and interests” of what he said were “more than 1.3 million Russians” living in those countries.
At present, the Russian diplomat said, “the situation of [Russia’s] compatriots in Ukraine is generating particular concern.” Not only do the approximately six million Russian “compatriots” there form the largest community of Russians abroad, but, he said, “a real threat hangs over their lives and human rights.”
But Makarov said, Moscow’s approach to compatriots abroad is based “on common principles” and seeks “to avoid any regional or local specifics in the countries of the Baltic and in Ukraine.” Indeed, he said, “it is not distinguished at the level of principle from work with compatriots say in the US, France, or Kyrgyzstan.”
Moscow’s policies in this regard, he continued, are defined by the Russian Government Commission for the Affairs of Compatriots Abroad, which develops long-term and annual plans and coordinates efforts among the foreign ministry and other Russian government agencies. At present, that body is working on plans for 2015-2017.
Makarov said that “an important place” in this activity is expanding information channels for Russian compatriots abroad. Recently, it launched a portal for the commission itself and continues to publish specialized journals like Russky Vek, Baltiyskiy Mir for the Baltic countries, Yedinstvo v raznoobrazii for Central Asia, and Shire Krug for Europe.
Asked about the appearance of books attacking Moscow’s cooperation with its compatriots, such as Oleg Samorodny’s Compatriots of the Kremlin which was recently published in Estonia, Makarov said that he didn’t consider them significant because it should be clear to everyone that they had been ordered up by those who oppose Russia.
The Russian diplomat added that “it is well known to us that among a narrow circle of emigres,” there are people who are quite prepared to “spread filth” on those “who want to strengthen ties with their historical Motherland, who seek to preserve the Russian language…and popularize the achievements of Russian culture and science where they live.”
But Makarov said he was confident that such people would not succeed, especially because “Moscow will do everything possible” to defend those who are being attacked only because they want to be part of the Russian world.